Jesuit Social Services today welcomed the news that an end was in sight to the inhumane offshore detention regime that has traumatised many innocent people in Australia’s name.

The organisation commended those in the community who fought so hard to bring about change, and said those same people must continue to monitor developments to ensure compassion, not cruelty, remained a central plank of the plan.

“This announcement is a welcome one for the close to the 2000 people who have languished for more than 3 years on Nauru and Manus Island. Yet with many details of the plan still to be confirmed, including how many people will actually be eligible for resettlement in the United States, the Government must commit to ensuring safe, secure and permanent resettlement for all those in offshore detention”, said CEO of Jesuit Social Services, Julie Edwards.

She said Jesuit Social Services maintained its belief that people seeking asylum in Australia should be processed in the Australian community and resettled locally, and said there remained a number of concerns about the Government’s plans.

“A number of associated policies are unacceptable, including the lifetime visa ban for those arriving by boat; the deportation of the 300 people currently in Australia; the separation of families across continents; and the threat of refoulement for some refugees,” she added. “Compassion, not cruelty, must form the central plank of this plan and mark a shift in the way Australia welcomes refugees.”

Ms Edwards added that it was heartening to see the community had come together to argue for change. “This is a vindication of the work of the many teachers, doctors, social workers, advocates and millions of ordinary people who have put pressure on the Government. We can stop deaths at sea, and treat people compassionately at the same time. Offshore detention centres should form no part of our refugee policy.”

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